MBTI® ISFP and Workplace Behavior – Understanding individuals’ Myers Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI®) can be a valuable tool as organizations develop and grow. MBTI® can provide insights into employees’ innate behavioral tendencies and how these tendencies materialize in behavior. For example, the increased awareness that MBTI® affords can shed light on nuances of individual personalities, preferences, strengths, and areas of improvement, as well as what they might be looking for in a professional environment, how they approach challenging decisions, how they build relationships and contribute to meetings, and even how they master and apply new information in unfamiliar contexts. Collectively, these insights can improve communication both internally between coworkers as well as externally between coworkers and clients. They also have the potential to improve employee satisfaction and even increase productivity. Ultimately, all of these benefits can contribute to a more profitable, successful organization.
An ISFP (Introverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving) individual will, by definition, have introverted tendencies. That is, they will generally find it beneficial to have quiet time to focus on themselves and reflect on their own feelings. On the other hand, engaging with others for extended interactions may drain them of energy. Furthermore, their sensing nature means they perceive the world directly and orient themselves through practical realities rather than assumptions or intuitions. Their feeling and perceiving tendencies influence how they approach their careers and daily lives more directly. ISFPs seek to achieve harmony with others, and they value the well-being of those around them.
Organizational Climate and ISFP Disposition
When in individuals gather in groups, a culture organically emerges. The same is true within organizations, regardless of their size or purpose. Different personality types shape their organizations’ cultural climate in a variety of different ways. ISFPs, for example, are “gentle, considerate, and compassionate toward those in need of help” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p15, CPP Inc., 1998). They dedicate themselves and work tirelessly to ensure that their colleagues feel satisfied in their professional as well as in their personal lives. For example, ISFPs remember significant events in their colleagues’ lives, such as anniversaries and birthdays, and also take the time to check in if others are managing stressful circumstances, like a challenging project or even a personal loss. In doing so, ISFPs build and maintain relationships and make their peers feel valued.
ISFPs are typically easy going, joyful people who cultivate cooperation among team members. They do their best to diffuse tension and arbitrate disagreements whenever possible. They care deeply about how others are treated, but may sacrifice their own well-being and overlook their own self-interest in order to ensure the best treatment of others. For example, an ISFP may choose to take on additional hours themselves if doing so removes stress from an overworked colleague. They perform optimally when they are in quiet but supportive environments that encourage independent work and privacy. Because of their introverted nature, ISFPs prefer to work on their own the majority of the time and schedule designated windows for collaboration. However, they do appreciate the opportunity to refine their ideas by presenting them and receiving feedback from their colleagues.
Organizations and team leaders should also keep in mind that ISFPs’ sensing and feeling proclivities make them value the aesthetics of their environment. ISFPs thrive in organized, peaceful workplace environments with few distractions. They often have plants in their windows or a small fountain with running water to create a more harmonious work setting. ISFPs see unnecessary stress as a distraction and therefore they do what they can to mitigate it so they can stay focused on their work.
Workplace Association and Interaction
The effectiveness and efficiency of employees’ communication can be an indicator of an organization’s success; the more efficient the communication, the more successful the organization. While people have different ways of communicating with one another, as well as different tendencies and strengths, MBTI® can be used to anticipate and prepare for these nuances, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will cause misunderstandings or tension. For example, because of their supportive and cultivating personalities, ISFPs tend to focus on others during their meetings and interactions. They are much more interested in creating an environment that encourages others to contribute ideas and voice their opinions than they are in actively advocating for their own. At the same time, because of their sensitivity, ISFPs are often hesitant to offer constructive criticism or other opposition to ideas presented, even if doing so might earn respect or strengthen the presentation.
Furthermore, ISFPs are practical, methodical thinkers. They are typically able to function well and provide practical support when the circumstances require it, even in stressful or desperate situations. For example, an ISFP serving as an emergency dispatcher can narrow their scope to focus only on the facts at hand, without getting distracted by possibilities or counterfactuals. They also focus on options with the greatest likelihood of success, and are willing to accept a smaller victory with a higher chance of a positive outcome rather than taking a big risk for a big reward. ISFPs are believers that “slow and steady wins the race” and “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” However, ISFPs do not shy away from hard work, and staunchly believe that a high standard is worth working for. Their goal is to achieve as much as possible in a calm and harmonious manner.
ISFPs and Operational Efficiency
Successful organizations operate efficiently. They not only implement and maintain effective practices, but also constantly improve upon their operations and use quality training to communicate new standards to their workforce. Different MBTI® Personality Types contribute to this efficiency in different ways, and this diversity, if properly anticipated and handled, can be a considerable asset.
While they typically do not seek out leadership positions, preferring instead to provide behind the scenes support, ISFPs take a supportive, mentoring approach when they have leadership thrust upon them. For example, an ISFP leading a workshop is more likely to adopt the role of facilitator or mentor, helping attendees discover and then achieve their underlying goals, instead of positioning themselves as the instructor in a position of power and authority. ISFPs prefer to earn others’ trust and loyalty, inspiring their mentees to learn from them, instead of emphasizing negative consequences for noncompliance. Similarly, they prefer to positively reinforce good behaviors, for instance by complimenting a job well done, instead of being overly critical or explicitly identifying areas of improvement. While this style may be beneficial to other sensitive or feeling individuals, those with more “Thinking” or “Judgmental” tendencies might become frustrated by the lack of specific and precise feedback. ISFP leaders may be able to become even more effective by presenting both positive and constructive comments to their employees or mentees. By exercising more traditional approaches to authority, they can ensure that their team members still have the tools they need to continue to improve.
Like their approach to leadership, ISFPs’ approach to problem solving is inherently collaborative. They elicit input from every member of their team and evaluate it objectively before making a decision. During this process, they also consider how possible solutions or actions may affect others, both within their teams and outside of them. As such, ISFPs rarely make decisions hastily, even in critical situations. Their careful deliberation can be misinterpreted as indecisive, especially since they may abandon legitimate concerns if others object to them. An important lesson for ISFPs as well as many other sensing or feeling personality types is that disagreement does not imply a personal conflict. In other words, it is possible for colleagues to point out weaknesses in approach or even disagree with one another outright without thinking less of one another.
Because of their dedication to harmony in the workplace, ISFPs tend to be open to training or continuing education if they believe that new approaches will improve their company culture, including employees’ or clients’ experiences. They are particularly invested in experiential learning approaches that communicate the new standards explicitly and demonstrate their benefits directly. When possible, ISFPs also appreciate the opportunity to discuss operational changes with their teams so they can identify concerns or skepticisms and address them upfront systematically. Resolving concerns immediately helps them and their employees feel supported and heard, which in turn will increase compliance with the new policies.
Using the MBTI® in the Workplace
For decades, MBTI® has been applied by many different types of organizations the world over in order to operate more efficiently and cultivate more fulfilling professional environments for their employees. Seemingly small operational changes, from optimizing training programs to modifying employee incentive structures can profoundly improve how individuals experience their work and how they understand their relationships with their colleagues and organization overall. Even marginal improvements in employee satisfaction and operational efficiency can lead to enormous benefits in the long term.
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)